C_Vallion

8.9.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace - Chapter 10 RevA - L - 4104 Words

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Hello, All!

Note before reading:  There are two color-coded sections here that are relevant and important for the chapter, but will be introduced earlier when I work through the next revision.  I tried to mesh them in with the chapter here, but here together, it definitely makes it more info-dumpy than it would be with them in their eventual locations.  I added text boxes that explain the color-coding at those spots, but if you’re reading on a phone, they don’t turn up where they’re supposed to.

Green text: will be introduced before Ala catches Is- casting the fire spell. Probably in one of his first two chapters if I can figure out how to mesh it in.

Blue text: will be introduced before the concert. Or possibly in Ali’s chapter, since she is already aware that Is- knows the fire spell. And because I sort of feel like any detail that might combat the sense of Is-’s idleness through Part 1 should be introduced as early as possible.

Thanks so much for all of the thoughts about the interlude and Part 1 as a whole.  Definitely have a lot of work ahead of me in getting all of that where it needs to be, but it does seem like some of the things I was trying to do in 9 and the interlude are coming across.  Now to fix things to keep from losing people along the way…

The pacing should be a little better from here forward (now that we don’t have any bedridden MCs), so I’m hoping the issues with the next bunch of chapters will be less frustrating. I guess we’ll see.  

Content Warning: Mild Language

Usual questions plus one:

  1. Any confusing/boring sections for this chapter?
  2. Thoughts on characters?
  3. Points of interest or engagement?
  4. The color-coded text: Does it seem like those details added in earlier would be helpful, both for Is’s engagement level in Part 1 and for a slightly better sense of where the lines of legality vs. general social custom fall in regard to magic?

Thanks so much!

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As I go:

pg 1. How old are D's nieces? I'm assuming she's saying this because they're little kids. You can just tell us how old they are and I think it won't be weird

-I think this opening is strong for what it is but my main interest in Is is how she fits into the larger political sphere, not her personal recovery. If this was the first time I see Is I would be engaged here but right now I just want her to get to dealing with magic and the courts

pg 3. I'm still thinking about the above comments while reading this. What we have here is a really solid look into Is' personal life... which is a bit of a hard sell after first being exposed to broader horizons. Generally I think it's easier to do the reverse by starting with something simple and personal and then expanding into a focus on the broader world. 

pg 4. I think your solution here is good. The info is important and engaging for what it is but it does drag on in this chapter. 

pg 6. Is Isr's (I'm just going to call Is--n Isr even though it would also fit Is) strength possible because his healer is allowed to use more magic here? If so I think it's fine to spell that out 

-I do really like this dynamic though. Isr as a foil to Is and tying her more closely to magic

pg 7. Not an expert on disability studies but to me this seems like a really good balance of exploring magic as a means of treating disabilities without erasing the identities of disabled people

pg 9. I think I need a bit more on what exactly she's realizing about her mother. We already know that her mother is trying to change the laws, and the idea of her consulting Isr about it makes sense. Are they doing this behind V's back? That would be the real ploy to me. 

On 8/9/2021 at 8:49 AM, C_Vallion said:
  • Any confusing/boring sections for this chapter?
  • Thoughts on characters?
  • Points of interest or engagement?
  • The color-coded text: Does it seem like those details added in earlier would be helpful, both for Is’s engagement level in Part 1 and for a slightly better sense of where the lines of legality vs. general social custom fall in regard to magic?

1. Nope! 

2. The juxtaposition between Is and Isr works really well. I don't get a great read on Aunt D but I don't consider that to be a big issue at the moment. 

3. Basically everything in this chapter was engaging to me. It starts with a challenge that Is has to face down, and shifts that into talk about culture and laws very well through Isr. 

4. I think they would be helpful, although not critical. And... I have a wild idea below that affects this. 

All right, so this chapter left me conflicted because I think that it's the smoothest chapter from this story we've read by a substantial margin, but it almost doesn't feel like it's the same book as part 1 in terms of what it's focusing on. Throughout the entire chapter my thoughts were "Man I would love this if it were the first chapter I read, but the scope and atmosphere feel off based on part 1." I know this story has already gone through radical changes and I hate to suggest a ton more work for you, but there is one idea that I came up with that I want to at least put out there despite how big of a change it would be. Not because I think you will or even should do exactly what I'm thinking, but maybe it will spark new ideas of yours.

What if this was chapter one and all of the important events of part one were delivered through bite-sized flashbacks as we go along?

This fixes a lot of problems we were discussing. How we can't see Is much before the duels, how Ala feels a little unfocused, and especially how all of part 1 feels like setup that the reader needs to know but doesn't feel like it moves the plot along. So instead of setting that up at the beginning, why not first work to establish these smaller, self-contained narratives at the start and dole out the setup info in flashbacks as it becomes relevant? The C threat feels far away now and the characters aren't allowed to realize how big of a deal it actually is, making it hard for readers to be engaged? No problem. Just bring up C when it's relevant, and then slap a flashback on showing how everyone was totally ignoring the threat just a month ago. A lot of fantasy relies on flashbacks, so you could expect readers to have more tolerance for that than a slow-moving beginning.

Because this is the first time in the story that I feel like everything really makes sense and that I get exactly what the story wants me to know and find it as important as the story does. All of the stuff about Is' injury and the politics of magic and the mage rebellion finally click together and are really interesting to me. I really want that to be what I feel when I pick up the book, not ten chapters in. And honestly? I think I could read this chapter blind and not miss a ton. The chapter is so tight in how it handles the issues that when I don't know something, I would assume I'm not supposed to know it and don't need to know it right away.

Anyways, just my two cents. :) This is a really good sign for me that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. It just... might require a lot more with with part 1, whether or not that's nixing it further like I'm suggesting. 

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Hi, sorry for being a bit later to this one!

As I read:

p3 - It feels like the chapter is taking too long to get going. I get that the point is that the training is repetitive, but it goes on for too long without having an indication of what the conflict is going to be for Is now that she's out of the public eye.

p3 - I assume that Is-n's impending arrival is supposed to carry the tension now, but I'm not sure what to expect from an Is-n visit, so it doesn't work.

p4 - The reasoning for the fire spell being kept secret seems a bit weird to me. It looks like the bottom line is that, if it got out, the nobles would have it and the common people wouldn't and that would be too much of a power disparity. I can see why Is would be concerned about that kind of power disparity, but why would the king? He doesn't strike me as the sort of leader who would be worried about the power gap between the nobility and the peasantry growing.

p4 - The explanation for why Is knows the fire spell feels like kind of a hand wave, so I think you're on the right track to move this info earlier in the story so that it's not built up as a mystery.

p6 - I like the appearance of healthy Is-n. It's giving Is some interesting things to think about, and that's engaging to me.

p8 - The point about Is-n's variable health is getting a bit belaboured by the end of page 8. I already understand that he has serious mobility issues without magic to help him.

p9 - I'm assuming Is's realisation was that her mother had been pushing for magic laws to be relaxed, possibly because of Is-n? And that the 'research project' is actually about preparing Is for the delicate political situation?

p10 - I like the new wrinkle to the intrigue!

 

1. I felt this chapter got better as it went. It starts to get interesting when Is-n shows up, but before that, it's a bit dull. I think you could fast forward through Is's training with G, and the bit where Is is told that her uncle is coming to visit doesn't seem to have much of a point.

2. G has another brief moment in the spotlight, so I'm keeping an eye on him since I assume his character is building toward something. It seems like he's taking his failure to protect Is from the poisoning really hard, even after he has been magically cleared.

Da seems nice but I don't have much to say about her beyond that.

Is-n is a lot more exuberant here than he has been previously. I'm assuming that's intentional, to show how much difference the magical healing has made. And he's very clearly pushing Is to investigate, which is interesting, given that he's not supposed to give the appearance of getting involved.

Is looks like she's about to launch an investigation, which I like for her character. Although if she does have a penchant for investigating mysteries, it strikes me as a bit weird that she would latch onto her mother's slightly suspicious research project rather than the unsolved poisoning that nearly killed her.

3. I think I've already said my points of engagement. I like Is-n when he shows up, and the dinner conversation. I like that we're suspicious of the queen's research project now, and that Is is going to start looking into that.

4. The colour-coded text would definitely be helpful earlier in the story. Not just to help establish the magic laws, but because Is knowing a spell she really shouldn't would introduce a tension to her character earlier on. In chapter 1, she comes across as someone who believes in adhering strictly to the rules, so the fact that she's got this big scandalous secret would be a pretty interesting detail to drop there.

Also, yes, being clear that the fire spell is legal but scandalous whereas other spells are flat-out forbidden for being too dangerous is definitely an important thing to work into those early chapters. (And also make it clear early that spell stone usage is different from spell casting. I remember that being a potential point of confusion.)

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as i go:

pg 1

“He’d just scowled” dang, harsh G

“Then back. Five times” jesus i would die

pg 2

“In the gardens at home” okay so i completely missed in the first paragraph where it said Is was at her uncles estate. 

pg 4

-agree that the colored text should be placed much earlier. It is quite infodumpy but the info is good and i dont know if theres a way around it. Sometimes you just have to be infodumpy *shrugs* 

pg 5

“Mixedup sleep schedule… odd hours” omg same, except im sleeping all the time and at odd hours. Also, for some reason, this sentence made me think those odd hours were happening now and she was practicing late at night or something. But she still has to have dinner

-more engagement on the pages where she practices the magic

pg 6

"had he always been this tall?" okay now im picturing him like king bumi from atla lol

pg 7

“How often do you usually” the ‘she’ who is saying this might be too unclear. I know its Is but there is the possibility that it could be mistaken for Da saying this

-the stuff about the uncle going to get treatment is interesting. Makes me wonder what they do exactly

pg 10

Ending seems kind of abrupt. its just lacking that punch to drive me forward. what you have isnt bad, but i think it could be better.

 

Overall

This chapter was good! I was definitely more interested in the parts with her uncle and less interested in her training and talking to her aunt. But I feel like the information about her training is important, so maybe just cut that part down a bit.

On 8/9/2021 at 5:49 AM, C_Vallion said:

 

  1. Any confusing/boring sections for this chapter?
  2. Thoughts on characters?
  3. Points of interest or engagement?
  4. The color-coded text: Does it seem like those details added in earlier would be helpful, both for Is’s engagement level in Part 1 and for a slightly better sense of where the lines of legality vs. general social custom fall in regard to magic?

 

1. Mostly just the beginning was a bit slow going. Nothing confusing tho.

2. Nothing has changed too much in my opinions of the characters. Da seems nice. I still like Is-n.

3. Definitely when her uncle shows up and we see how well he is doing compared to before. Also the conversation about Is's mother's plans.

4.Yes, I think it would really help clear somethings up and give readers a better sense of the magic conflict. And I do agree with @Ace of Hearts that I am seeing a more clear direction of where the story is going. There is a lot less confusion in this chapter (with the main conflict) and im sad that it took us 10 chapters to get here. Im not quite sure if this should be a first chapter. I think you could make it work, but i think i'll have to get further into the story to see where it goes and then decide whats the best place to start.
 

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Posted (edited)

 

On 8/12/2021 at 7:14 PM, RedBlue said:

p4 - The reasoning for the fire spell being kept secret seems a bit weird to me. It looks like the bottom line is that, if it got out, the nobles would have it and the common people wouldn't and that would be too much of a power disparity. I can see why Is would be concerned about that kind of power disparity, but why would the king? He doesn't strike me as the sort of leader who would be worried about the power gap between the nobility and the peasantry growing.

I'll have to think about whether this is the feeling I want people to have or not, as there should be some ambiguity throughout over whether or not we trust V.  Most of the court definitely sees him as a manipulative, power hungry jerk, but it should also be apparent at this point that the image he presents to the court is largely manufactured.  I still have some work ahead of me in figuring out how clear I want those contrasts to be, or how much of it continues to unfold throughout.

Since that part of the information would probably be added to one of Al's chapters, it will probably be presented (or interpreted by Al) more as the king wanting to avoid letting the nobility close the power gap between themselves and him. Which should (in theory) seem like it conflicts less with the image V is presenting by that point.  But I do want to make sure I get Is's interpretation of V's reasons there as well to contrast that...hmmm... maybe I can add that to Is and Al's conversation after the concert, to begin stressing the point that Is sees V differently than most of the court does.   Definitely something for me to think about.

On 8/12/2021 at 6:40 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 7. Not an expert on disability studies but to me this seems like a really good balance of exploring magic as a means of treating disabilities without erasing the identities of disabled people

This is definitely something I'll be looking to get input on through this revision and those following, since I want to make sure healing magic doesn't become a magical cure-all that erases disabilities, even if it changes the struggles that disabled people face. Should you see any issues with the way things are presented (like the terminology concerns from previous chapters), let me know.  It's definitely an area where I can see myself unintentionally misstepping, whether missing things in the haze of editing exhaustion or through general lack of information.  So please call me out on that if you see any places where the way things are presented lean toward being problematic.

I have a few friends who will be reading through my next revision to provide feedback on how disabilities are presented, but I knew there would still be a lot of changes to Part 1 after this revision, so I wanted to deal with some of the overarching plot/pacing issues first.

On 8/12/2021 at 7:14 PM, RedBlue said:

1. I felt this chapter got better as it went. It starts to get interesting when Is-n shows up, but before that, it's a bit dull. I think you could fast forward through Is's training with G, and the bit where Is is told that her uncle is coming to visit doesn't seem to have much of a point.

On 8/13/2021 at 8:14 PM, karamel said:

1. Mostly just the beginning was a bit slow going.

Good to know. The second scene is mostly to introduce the message boxes, but it may be possible to sneak that into another spot. 

On 8/12/2021 at 7:14 PM, RedBlue said:

And he's very clearly pushing Is to investigate, which is interesting, given that he's not supposed to give the appearance of getting involved.

 This should have been clarified a little more in the next chapter, but I needed to call out his intentions a little more clearly there, I think, based on your comments on that chapter.  

On 8/12/2021 at 7:14 PM, RedBlue said:

The colour-coded text would definitely be helpful earlier in the story. Not just to help establish the magic laws, but because Is knowing a spell she really shouldn't would introduce a tension to her character earlier on. In chapter 1, she comes across as someone who believes in adhering strictly to the rules, so the fact that she's got this big scandalous secret would be a pretty interesting detail to drop there.

Also, yes, being clear that the fire spell is legal but scandalous whereas other spells are flat-out forbidden for being too dangerous is definitely an important thing to work into those early chapters. (And also make it clear early that spell stone usage is different from spell casting. I remember that being a potential point of confusion.)

Good to know. This is what I was thinking, so it's good to have that confirmed.  Now to go back and work it in...

On 8/13/2021 at 8:14 PM, karamel said:

"had he always been this tall?" okay now im picturing him like king bumi from atla lol

Hah. nice. 


And now...for this.

Sidenote, I love wild ideas.  Always feel free to mention them.  Seeing some of the big picture things from different angles is always incredibly helpful for figuring out solutions to issues that I might not have noticed before. 

On 8/12/2021 at 6:40 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

What if this was chapter one and all of the important events of part one were delivered through bite-sized flashbacks as we go along?

On 8/13/2021 at 8:14 PM, karamel said:

And I do agree with @Ace of Hearts that I am seeing a more clear direction of where the story is going. There is a lot less confusion in this chapter (with the main conflict) and im sad that it took us 10 chapters to get here. Im not quite sure if this should be a first chapter.

First off, it's a huge relief to know that things come together better here. So thanks for that feedback. I've definitely considered starting here or having like two chapters before it or several other variations on the theme.  10 chapters in is definitely too far in to have the main plotlines clarified, and there is still a lot of extra/confusing/meandering stuff going on in part 1, but I have some ideas in mind for how to deal with that without losing some of the things I think are important to have before this scene.

So.

My current plans to fix that in the next round of edits are:

1. Get the prologue in order. I want to open with the scene of Al's parents' deaths, from his dad's (B, for clarification) perspective. B is a foreign mage, basically forbidden from leaving the duchy because the old king hated magic, foreigners, and people who interfere with his plans.  So B is sort of the grand trifecta of all that V's dad hated. Starting with this scene from him gives us:

  • A larger scale for the geography of the story, both by being away from the capital and by including a more visible tie to Ket- 
  • A sense of how much the kingdom hates/fears foreigners and mages, to add more weight to Al's worries that he won't fit in at court. 
  • A clearer sense of the scale of cast magic, and what can happen when it goes wrong, to add more weight to why it was restricted in the first place. 
  • Some of the troubled history between Al's family and Is's.  Since V's father's strictness over the magic laws led to Al's parents' deaths, and Al's mother had a history of defying the royal family. 
  • A high energy opening, in case I find a way to introduce an Is scene before the tournament to show how she perceives and is perceived by the court before she gets sidelined by poison. A little more political-Is, a good deal less bedridden-Is

2. Trim back Part 1 in general, and figuring out what scenes might be able to be shifted forward.

3. Tie Al's Part 1 goals more strongly into carrying on his mother's work to reduce the magic restrictions, both to tie that focus in and to help with the pacing.  In this round of revisions, he asks his adviser if he can help and is sort of turned down.  I want Al to be a little more involved with that, both to have more short term goals through Part 1 and to better focus us in on the magic law plotline. 

Those are my current thoughts for where Part 1 will be changing in the next round, which I think addresses a lot of the reasons it might make sense to cut right to here. 

My biggest concerns with cutting out Part 1 entirely are: 

1. I want the scale to seem a little smaller for Is at the beginning, because one of the big parts of her arc is learning that the world is bigger and more complicated than she'd ever imagined. So I'm quite attached to starting with her at home in an environment that she's very willing to accept for what it is because that's just how the world works. 

2. There are probably ways to flashback to her interactions with friends and family at home, but I think only seeing her relationships with her family and friends through flashback seems like it will be really difficult, especially since she goes through a pretty massive perception shift before she is reunited with them. 

3. I want to make sure we get the pictures of V, Is, and R before things start falling apart. Al as well, but he gets a little more time to breathe than the others. All of their arcs deal with how they respond to being unable to control the world around them to some extent, so seeing the start points for each of them (V's stony composure, Is's stubborn independence, R's flippant carelessness, Al's coping with old trauma) in "real-time" seems important. 

 

All of that being said, it will definitely be there in the back of my mind as I'm continuing to get feedback on this revision.  After all, I'd thought starting at the tournament would have the same problems, and it's been a huge improvement.  I do think I need something before this one, but it's quite likely far less than my brain is clinging to at the moment. 

 

Edited by C_Vallion
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